Sunday, August 28, 2011

An amusing paradox in poem

Or "How a clever innkeeper provided with nine empty rooms had no difficulty providing separate lodgings for each of 10 travelers. "

From a late 19th century British magazine…

Ten weary, footsore travelers,
All in a woeful plight,
Sought shelter at a wayside inn
One dark and stormy night

“Nine rooms, no more,” the landlord said,
“Have I to offer you.
To each of eight a single bed
But the ninth must serve for two.”

A din arose. The troubled host
Could only scratch his head,
For of those tired men no two
Would occupy one bed

The puzzled host was soon at ease –
He was a clever man –
And so to please his guests devised
This most ingenious plan.

In room marked A two men were placed,
The third was lodged in B,
The fourth to C was then assigned,
The fifth retired to D.

In E the sixth he tucked away,
In F the seventh man,
The eighth and ninth in G and H,
And then to A he ran,

Where in the host, as I have said,
Had laid two travelers by;
Then taking one – the tenth and last-
He lodged him safe in I.

Nine single rooms – a room for each-
Were made to serve for ten;
And this it is that puzzles me
And many wiser men.

From The Scientific American Book of Mathematical Puzzles & Diversions, Fallacies, pg 142,143

1 comment:

Lauren said...

This was awesome!

The tenth man and the first man are the same person. :)